Is the Tea Party movement fundamentally libertarian?
The Tea Party movement has been much maligned by its opponents as nothing but the conservative movement under a different name. Admittedly, this is a charge that even I’ve made as I’ve been concerned about ancillary social issues that have seeped into Tea Party. That was made even worse when polls showed Tea Party voters backing Rick Santorum, who is no fiscal conservative and even worse on social issues.
But a new study from the Cato Institute, written by David Kirby and Emily Ekins, shows that the Tea Party movement does indeed have very strong libertarian roots, which is often overlooked by political strategists and the news media.
The study isn’t necessarily the first of its kind. The Cato Institute has previous put out two separate studies on the libertarian vote. In 2006, an analysis by David Boaz and the aforementioned David Kirby showed that the libertarian vote, which was drifting toward Democrats at the time, made up “some 13 percent of the electorate.” A follow up study in 2008, showed that the number of voters that could be identified as libertarian made up 14 percent of the electorate. Moreover, they were much more supportive of John McCain than Barack Obama.
This latest analysis shows that the Tea Party movement has a strong libertarian influence on economic issues, which, as Kirby and Ekins note, is the uniting factor holding it together. However, they also note that the Tea Party movement is evenly split on social issues.
But the libertarian influence of the Tea Party movement has largely paved the path for much of the animosity we’ve seen in primary races against establishment Republicans and why, perhaps, Ron Paul was able to gain so much more traction in 2012 than he was just four years ago.
You can read the analysis, Libertarian Roots of the Tea Party, at this link. It’s embedded below as well: